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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Eleven and a half

Despite the very special team of doctors and nurses helping him, Riley died yesterday afternoon, Monday, October 20, 2014. I am heartbroken for my family and I am heartbroken for all of the people, especially the children, who know Riley. I wish I could scoop them up and protect this from this horrible truth.

Hopeful with siblings before surgery.
Riley went into surgery scared, but hopeful. He looked forward to running, flying on airplanes without oxygen, and going to the mountains--something he could not do because of his low oxygenation. I like believing that he died still feeling hopeful for those things, and I imagine him running and running and running. I feel grateful that he died while being soothed by his mother, father, and two bonus parents and not in an operating room. He is no longer in pain, no longer suffering, no longer struggling. For this I am also grateful. Afterward, I noticed a vertical beam of light pressed against the wall near the closed blinds at the end of his bed. He is free.

We know you all want to do something and we appreciate your love and support. In lieu of flowers or other gifts, please consider donating in Riley's honor to Camp Taylor, which is a free summer camp for children with heart defects and their families. Also, please donate blood, not just now, but again and again. Riley lived as long as he did because of the generous donations of countless, nameless, and selfless individuals. His corneas will be donated to help others.

At some point, there will be a celebration of Riley’s life, and we will post details here. In the meantime, I wanted to share a poem that Riley wrote last month for a class assignment:

Gracious Green
By: Riley Norton 9-16-14 

Do you know what my favorite color is? Green! 
He is: nature; earth’s greatest gift, 
the leaves that sometimes drift, 
an Exit sign glowing on the wall, 
and a brand new tennis ball 

My color sounds like the wet grass when you step in it 
He tastes like a salad with some vinaigrette 

My color feels like a warm, soft pillow 
Green is the smell of a tree called a willow 

Green looks like a sour apple ripping on a tree
he is someone's favorite color and that someone is me! 

Thank you for loving him, and us, through the years.
Suzanne, Ken, and family

UPDATE: Donate to Camp Taylor in Riley's memory here:

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